Debate: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

Chef Max Kamakura is pictured in his Executive Tribeca Chef Coat. Chef Ryan Ososky is pictured in his Executive Bristol Executive Chef Coat and Boulder Chef’s Bib Apron. If you have a topic you’d like to debate, email

There are some debates that will rage forever. Is Star Trek superior to Star Wars? (No). Were Ross and Rachel on a break? (Yes). Was that dress gold or blue? (Gold). Was “The Sopranos” ending good. (No, but I won’t stop believing.)

Today the Chef Works blog offers a debate as bitter as the Capulets and Montagues. From a culinary perspective, there may be no greater question:

Is a hot dog a sandwich?

We brought in heavy-hitting chefs Max Kamakura and Ryan Ososky – both michefs designers – to tackle this wiener-wringer. Both will also be at next month’s National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago showing off products as part of michefs partnership with Steelite International.

Kamakura, sous chef at Katsuya /SLS Miami Beach, is on team sandwich. Ososky is managing partner and executive chef for Dtown hospitality group and says, “no way” is a hot dog a sandwich.

Bread + meat should equal a sandwich, right?

Chef Max Kamakura: Yes, a hot dog is a sandwich.

I’ve been a sushi chef for most of my career. And much like sushi has its own categories and shapes, sandwiches have their own categories. A hot dog falls squarely in the category of “sandwich.”

Sandwiches – including hot dogs – have been enjoyed for generations. And when we take a deeper look at their origins, we see some interesting parallels.

Both were created with same concept in mind – differing only in the demographic that consumed them.

The sandwich was an English creation for the wealthy to consume while playing cards. The hot dog came first with the sausage creations of Germany and then it was adopted with the same concept of the sandwich for immigrants in Chicago who did not have much financial purchasing power and needed a tasty and cheap meal.

However if we look at both stories, practically speaking, the hot dog suffers a kind of prejudice for being in the sandwich family, but minimized for being a migrant food.

A rose by any other name …

So coming full circle, being a sushi chef, I’ve seen how these different categories can take shape. But they still fall under the umbrella of “sushi.” Just as the meat-in-bread definition may branch out, all shapes and sizes still full under the umbrella of “sandwich.”

I therefore respectfully disagree with my friend, the great Chef Ryan Ososky.

Perhaps leaving a preview for a next debate, in my research, I also found that the burrito is another variation of sandwich. But that’s for another day. And I’m sure Chef Ryan will disagree with that as well.

Shape matters! Hot dogs are horizontal. Sandwiches are vertical.

Chef Ryan Ososky: Not a sandwich!

Sorry, but the hot dog is indeed in a category of its own. Both have bread, but one is sliced and one is clearly on a bun.

You can slice bread in a couple of different ways to make a sandwich. But a hot dog is forcemeat in a casing using a bun that’s slit halfway through. NOT EXACTLY A SANDWICH.

A sandwich is a top-and-bottom creation, not a v-shaped loaf.

And let’s talk inside of the bread. You can put pretty much whatever you want on a sandwich. And it usually starts with a spread like mayonnaise. Then you “stack” fillers like lettuce and tomato. Don’t even think about putting those on a hot dog. You put “toppings” – like mustard, relish or onions on a hot dog. You don’t fill it.

Going back to the presentation, a sandwich can be cut in half, in triangles and other assorted shapes. Who cuts a hot dog in half? Please.

And I’m guessing in a world loaded with finicky and choosy children, not once have they ever asked to have the crusts cut off of their hot dog. Why? Because it’s on a bun. There is no crust. Why? Because it’s not a sandwich!

Also, is anyone really going to a baseball game and ordering a sandwich?

(Drops the bun).

Want to read another debate? Read chefs John Tesar and Katsuji Tanabe debate the finer points of aprons vs. chef coats

Hot dog photos via Shutterstock

2 thoughts on “Debate: Is a hot dog a sandwich?

  1. I’ve always enjoyed this argument. This is the first time I’ve seen someone make the vertical vs. horizantal case. Think that swayed me. It’s NOT a sandwich.

  2. I’ve never considered a hot dog a sandwich because a hot dog is a hot dog. I mean technically it comes between 2 pieces of bread or one fold it into two, so I guess you can classify it as a sandwich. Then what would you call it, a hot dog sandwich? That’s like a hat on a hat so let’s just keep it as a hot dog.

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